Add Wikipedia to the list of internet content providers that would like to grab a bar of soap and bar SOPA and other similar bills from the congressional agenda. The site says it is endangered by both SOPA and PIPA and in protest, will shut down for 24 hours on Wednesday 1/18/12.
Wikipedia stated, “Today, the Wikipedia community announced its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18. The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate—that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia. This will be the first time the English Wikipedia has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and it’s a decision that wasn’t lightly made.”
Wikipedia says it is very careful to remain politically neutral, but regards this situation as existential rather than political. “In making this decision, Wikipedians will be criticized for seeming to abandon neutrality to take a political position. That’s a real, legitimate issue. We want people to trust Wikipedia, not worry that it is trying to propagandize them. But although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not. As Wikimedia Foundation board member Kat Walsh wrote on one of our mailing lists recently, We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression.”
Even as they are in the process of being modified, SOPA and PIPA still pose a threat, according to Wikipedia, and the two bills mirror similar efforts elsewhere across the globe, so it feels compelled to make its stand now.